Courage

Courage is a commonly misrepresented characteristic. I have just finished reading in the book of Joshua and I see just in the first couple of chapters that this story is full of courage. Israel has been carried and cared for completely by God through the guidance of Moses. Now, years and years later, Joshua is appointed to lead these people into the land God promised them so long ago. Joshua is not afraid. He is passionate and his faith is immovable. In our society courage is often defined as doing something dangerous. If you are a risk taker you must be courageous. Well, I think there is an element of truth to that but I don't think it stops there. Courage is so much more than just taking risks.

God has reminded me in the past week that the battle I fight in this life is completely, absolutely, spiritual. The physical is only a manifestation of the spiritual warfare at work. I admit, for most of my life the idea of spiritual warfare has put a knot in my stomach. I have always known that when I really got in the middle of what God wanted for me and let Him have it all, war would follow. I think because of that I have held back. I  guess you could say I have lacked the courage to dive in and pick up that sword and fight. I have said this in other blogs but it bares repeating. For so many years, I was so busy defending my heart with my own armor that I did not have the strength nor the insight to fight with God's weapons. The plain truth is that when we finally surrender everything over to Jesus, we are signing up to fight in His army. By my surrender, I have said I will fight on His side and trust him to lead me.

 The thought of what I have always known was out there fighting against me has, at times, made me shrink in fear. God's word makes it explicitly clear that we are fighting an unseen force. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4) There is a power of darkness that absolutely wants to destroy me. Intimidating right? Well, when my trust in Jesus is not unshakable, yes, that is very intimidating. Like I said earlier though, my surrender has deepened my trust in my savior. With this trust I have found real courage. Courage requires trust in something. If I want to jump out of an airplane (which I don't) I will put my trust in the parachute to keep me alive. (which is why I never will!) This little piece of the "courage puzzle" has been like finding a key to a door for me. For so long I prayed "Jesus make me brave, I want to be brave" but it was never really completely possible while I held onto pain or mistrust. How can I follow God's direction when I don't trust him completely to hold on to me?  In that case, courage will always give way to fear. I say that courage is commonly misrepresented because I think often, we don't see what lies behind the courage. True courage is preceded by honor and integrity. Joshua was truly a man of honor. He was very courageous but very humble. Every single time God spoke with him he fell on his face in humility. I find this fascinating. This man who obviously was so full of charisma, passion and probably charm, never forgot who he trusted. He was not fool enough to every put his trust in his own nature or ability. He put his trust in God. That is how he led men into battle with no fear. He fixed his eyes on God.

Courage is required to walk close to Jesus. We must constantly deny the obvious, physical choices and opt for the not so obvious, supernatural choices. This should not cause fear though because we can be completely secure in the trust of our Savior. His understanding is so deep, so full that I need not fear. I am learning daily that my God is not of this world, and the walk he has for me is not of this world. The things he calls me to will always draw me away from my earthly comfort and every day I am desiring that more and more. Today, my prayer is no longer "Jesus, make me brave" but rather, "Jesus, help me trust you." When we are found in him and only him, then will we stand up against injustice with passion, and integrity. Then, will we be willing to go where he leads without worry or fear. Then we will be able to make the choices that take some guts! Do not stand on the side lines friends, because you think you lack the courage to fight. Jesus goes before you, behind you, beside you, and mostly, IN you. What is it you fear? Death? Persecution? Why should we fear something that has no power over us! There is nothing Jesus hasn't conquered and nothing to fear. We can trust in Jesus the author of our lives and let him fill us with courage to fight the battle before us!

"Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth, and the body armor of God's righteousness". 
Eph. 6:14

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